By Matthew Peaslee
If John Cooper was still coaching today, he’d adapt Urban Meyer’s style in a heartbeat.
The former Buckeye head coach was in the Valley on Saturday at the Eastwood Mall to talk with fans, sign autographs and offer praise to Ohio State’s new leader.
“[Meyer] is a spread offense guy and that’s it in college football, now,” Cooper said. “If I got back in it, that’s what I would run.”
It’s safe to say when the Ashtabula native was named the 24th head coach in OSU history back on November 28, Cooper gave his full endorsement.
“I think we hit a home run,” Cooper said. “He’s the right man at the right time for the right job.”
Last season was anything but right for the Buckeyes.
They closed the season with four straight losses, including the first defeat to Michigan in seven years and a 24-16 loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl. It was the first losing campaign since 1988.
“I thought we should have won more games than we did,” Cooper said. “A 6-7 record at Ohio State doesn’t get it done.”
Cooper did say the suspensions of wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams, defensive end Solomon Thomas and Warren Harding grad Dan Herron hindered the team’s full potential.
“It’s unfortunate that we never had our full team,” he said. “A lot of those guys missed four or five games, but we lost some games that in my opinion we should have won.”
It was a year marred by the downfall of Jim Tressel and although Cooper said the coach who proceeded him “managed the game better than anybody,” he felt moving away from the 10-year leader was the best choice for all involved.
“It’s unfortunate that it ended like it did,” Cooper said. “He made a mistake and he paid the price for it.”
The event, hosted by Everything Buckeyes, was also a reunion of sorts. David Boston, Matt Finkes, Joe Germaine and Andy Katzenmoyer took part, too.
Boston, who had NFL stints with the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers says it was the first time he’s seen these old teammates in at least 10 years.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” Boston said.
“They were great teammates and great friends,” Germaine added.
Germaine and Boston hooked up for a great play in the 1997 Rose Bowl that was a hot topic of reflection amongst the former Buckeyes and fans.
Down 17-14 in the final minute, Germaine converted a pair of third-down passes and got to within the Arizona State 10-yard line before finding Boston open for the touchdown and a 20-17 win.
“You’re talking about Mr. Cool,” Cooper said of Germaine in that game-winning drive.
“It was a special season and that was our goal from the very beginning,” Germaine said. “We were a group that was able to accomplish that, then to win in the fashion that we did it was truly a memory for a lifetime.”
All four former players agreed with Cooper in saying Meyer is the right choice for the Buckeyes moving forward.
“When you get a guy of that caliber who has that kind of passion for the university and is from Ohio, with that resume — it’s a great fit,” said Finkes, who was college roommates with last year’s OSU head coach Luke Fickell and assistant Mike Vrabel. Both have been retained by Meyer on the 2012 staff.
For Katzenmoyer, it was his first public appearance since leaving football after only two professional seasons with the New England Patriots in 2001.
“Looking back, leaving [Ohio State] a year early may be a regret because it was such an amazing experience,” he said. “But everything that has happened to me made me what I am today.”
Katzenmoyer owns the Katzenmoyer Performance personal training studio in Westerville. Boston also works at a gym, his is in Boca Raton, Fla. Germaine lives and works in his native Arizona, while Finkes resides in the Columbus area.
Cooper now works as a consultant for the Cincinnati Bengals.